Be alert for signs of mental illness in an elder loved one

Georgia residents who are age 65 or older often begin to encounter certain challenges in life. Perhaps physical health is not what it once was and an older person finds him or herself needing to visit a doctor's office more often. As loved ones age, some may also show signs of mental illness, which can be debilitating in its most serious form. In fact, mental decline or incapacitation is often a central focus of long-term care planning.

Signs of mental illness are not always abrupt or obvious. Many times, mental decline shows itself in gradual, often subtle ways. When helping to care for an aging parent or loved one, it is important to keep watch for signs of possible mental health problems. While most elders' capacity to remember things wanes with age, if a loved one starts misplacing belongings or struggling to recognize immediate family members, it may warrant further examination.

Lack of personal hygiene or mood swings are also concerns. Especially if a particular elder has always prided him or herself on personal appearance, if he or she stops bathing or is wearing shirts with stains on them, etc., it may be a sign that his or her mental faculties are failing. Regardless of age, most people experience shifts in mood from time to time; however, if an aging parent or loved one seems to be experiencing random mood swings, in particular shifts that don't seem to align with current circumstances, then it may warrant further investigation.

No adult child in Georgia or elsewhere wants to think about his or her parent suffering from a mental illness. At the same time, most would want to be as prepared as possible to provide whatever type of specialized care may be needed down the line. This is why it is helpful to discuss such issues with an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney, who can recommend long-term care plans and help overcome any legal obstacles that arise.

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